LAHORE - The industrial wheel is crawling to a complete halt, businesses have been badly affected, and office work has been disrupted while the people are spending sleepless nights, thanks to Pakistan Power Electric Company (PEPCO) for supplying power only four to six hours during 24 hours to its helpless consumers. The students preparing to appear in annual examinations across the country are the worst victims of loadshedding as massive power outages are badly affecting their study. The PEPCO said on Monday that the electricity shortfall has reached to 5,015-MW in the country as 9,495-MW power generation was recorded against its demand of 14,510-MW. Even after the government has increased electricity tariff manifold, putting extra-burden on the already inflation-hit public, the PEPCO has again resorted to 18 to 20 hours of loadshedding across the Punjab. The worst power outages on Monday forced the public to take to streets in various parts of the City as the 18-hour loadshedding paralysed the routine life in the City. The residents of Walled City say the entire locality turns into hell during night due to the worst and unscheduled loadshedding. The massive power outages are badly affecting all segment of the society particularly the traders, shopkeepers, office-goers, students, busines-spersons and even the under-treatment patients at various hospitals. Traders said the business activities came to a halt across the Punjab Capital due to excessive and unscheduled power outages. The massive electricity loadshedding also forced the shopkeepers and traders to switch over to alternate arrangements like generators and UPS, which also increase the cost of running businesses. The local residents said 18 to 20-hour unannounced power outages were disturbing the life throughout the City. There was five-hour continuous power outage in Johar Town on Sunday night, which led to water shortage, Mrs Bashir Ahmed told The Nation by phone. The Lahorites say loads-hedding is making their lives more miserable as the housewives have to burn candles to cook food during the night hours. The congested residential localities like Islampura, Sanda, Samanabad, Iqbal Town, Sabzazar, Johar Town, Wahdat Colony, Kot Lakhpat, Shalimar and Baghbanpura areas are the most affected vicinities, where LESCO has resorted to 18-hour breakdown. But the posh neighbourhoods of Model Town, Township, Garden Town, Muslim Town, Gulberg and Defence have also fell victim to the most unwanted routine. The so-called PPP-led democratic government has failed to deliver and this is very unfortunate, Rashid Ahmed, a resident of Samanabad said. It (loadshedding) often results in water shortage as the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) cannot run its tubewells during the outages, Maqbool Ahmed, a resident of Sabzazar said. Chief of Qaumi Tajar Ittehad, Lahore, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh has said unscheduled loadshedding was hampering the business activities. He stated this while addressing an urgent meeting called by the President of Mall Road Traders Raja Hamid Riaz here on Monday. He urged the government to solve the electricity problem immediately by importing electricity from Iran and China on cheaper rates so that the national economy did not suffer further. The solution of electricity crisis is essential to improve the economic condition of the country, he added. He demanded of the government to take short-term measures to increase electricity generation to overcome this problem besides construction of dams. Irfan said the use of air-conditioners and other electric gadgets in the government offices should be reduced in the interest of the country and smooth provision of electricity to the industry may be ensured. Meanwhile, Director General PEPCO Management Conservation Engineer Muhammad Khalid told reporters here at WAPDA House on Monday that the national grid system was receiving 2,595-MW electricity from Hydel power plants, 2150-MW from thermal and 4,750-MW from IPPs. He also claimed that PEPCO had paid Rs 5 billion while the federal government would pay Rs 21 billion to Pakistan State Oil (PSO). He said that inflow and outflow in Mangla Dam was recorded 35,453 cusec and 28,000 cusec, respectively while inflow and outflow in Terbela Dam was recorded as 31,000 cusec. He also suggested that 200-MW power could be saved on Sunday (holidays) while 200-MW power by closing shopping centres at 8:00 pm. He lamented that past regimes did not follow the plans of power generation made by the WAPDA due to which the people have to face electricity crisis. The DG PEPCO said that attention was drawn towards power sector through 22 presentations on power shortfall but to no avail. To a question, he said due to annual maintenance and some technical faults four thermal plants had reduced 600-MW generation for the last two days and relief would be given to the masses after 5 days when the plants start producing electricity as per its capacity.